All of us want to believe that we are god's gift to earth, especially in our relationships. The truth is, most of us are tired and overwrought. In this state, it's easy to for us to go into autopilot mode and ignore the routine maintenance that a good relationship is needed.
Supporting your partner is the number one responsibility in your relationship. If you find yourself stuck in patterns, there are six relationship techniques you can focus on to ensure you are the anchor you need for your partner.
1. Listen Actively
Active listening is more than just listening. It's engaging your partner when they're sharing. Be honest with yourself. Does your partner's mind wander when you're talking? It is common to interrupt, hijack a story or not listen at all, but it does not mean it is okay. Whether your partner is sharing a deep emotional moment or telling you about an argument at work, you have an obligation to listen actively. So the next time your partner tries to talk to you, let go of your biases and focus on what your partner is saying. Be with their words.
2. Check In
Whether you live with your partner or see them once a week, take the time to check in. Make it a habit to ask them about their daily routine. Listening to the big life questions and daily issues in their lives builds trust and expectations for communication. Make sure you give them enough time to share their full truth.
3. Pay Attention to Non-verbals.
In a new relationship, it may be harder to measure. Try to understand how they behave when they are depressed or happy. Match these reactions to what they say. See if you can read between the words coming out of their mouths. If they’re able to verbalize upset every time, that’s great, but if they're not, it's your responsibility to learn these cues and express your need for help. Use tone, body language and eye movements as mood indicators. Most people are more attuned to body language than they are to themselves. If you have an intuition that they need to talk, believe it.
4. Accept No's.
Your partner may not want to talk. Although communication is key in any relationship, don't urge them when they are not ready. It doesn't matter if they don't want to talk. They may not be ready. Trust your judgment. You cannot decide to respond appropriately to their emotions. Instead, let them know that you can provide any type of support they need, even if it means space.
5. Provide comfort in a way that works for them.
We all have different views on what comfort means. For some, it is a warm chocolate cookie and a comfortable bed. For others, this is a good long-distance hike. Recognize your partner's definition of their comfort and provide it as best you can. They may be dealing with major changes in work or arguing with friends. When your partner comes to you for support, provide the comfort they lack elsewhere.
6. Be open when you need support.
This suggestion seems counter-intuitive. When we talk about giving support, why should we seek support? Because the relationship is about giving and asking. If you do not seek support, you set a bad precedent for your partner. If you seek support, you open a conversation that your partner can continue in the future. The next time they need support, they will know that you are seeking support, and they will feel more comfortable themselves.
Being supportive is not as easy as people think, but it starts with intent. Remember, everything you do is out of love. Even if you don't get it right on the first try, it is a learning process, and each relationship is different. The important thing is to make a positive and conscious effort. You will get there, and your relationship will become better.